Thursday, January 6, 2011

Martinez halts environmental rules

The Daily Times
By Susan Montoya Bryan The Associated Press

"ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is making good on campaign promises to drop new regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions as well as other controversial rules passed in the waning days of the previous administration.

Officials at the state Environment Department have requested to keep the greenhouse gas reduction rules, as well as new pollution-control measures aimed at the dairy industry, from being published in upcoming editions of the Register.

Without publication, the rules will not take effect.

John Martinez, director of the state Administrative Law Division at the state records center, confirmed Wednesday he had received the request and that the rules would not be published.

The move was welcomed by Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts. The city of Farmington has launched a lawsuit seeking to halt the regulations.

"The effort to enact regulations was politically motivated," Roberts said Wednesday. "I think there was disregard for the impact of the regulations on business in New Mexico."

The move is being criticized by environmental groups and lawyers who spent the past two years debating the merits of the rules before the state Environmental Improvement Board and the Water Quality Control Commission. Both panels endured days of public and expert testimony and had to review thousands of pages of documents before making their decisions.

The critics contend the administration is circumventing the law.

"In order to change an existing rule you have to go through the same process that you went through to adopt the rule. (Martinez) is trying to short circuit the process. She's trying to be above the law," said Bruce Frederick, an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represented the nonprofit group New Energy Economy in its petition before the EIB for the greenhouse gas regulations.

Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico energy coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance, said Martinez's action will only extend Northwest New Mexico's reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, a prospect he called "problematic."

"It appears that she's already creating a divisive situation, and some of the regulations that are in place are necessary," he said. "I understand that this is a political decision on her part, but I think it creates a lot of animosity." More>>>>

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